May 14, 2009

Jeter & Matsui lead late comeback in rubber match

Apparently, the day off yesterday for Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui was all they needed.  Both players delivered key hits in the late innings to carry the Yankees (17-17) over the Blue Jays (23-14) 3-2 to take the series.

Quick ‘Cap:
Johnny Damon continued his extra-base hit streak to 10 games when he doubled in the first inning.  He scored after Blue Jays starter Brian Tallet walked three men – Nick Swisher drew the third that forced in Damon.  But Tallet settled down after his shaky first and pitched shutout ball until he seventh.

CC Sabathia retired every Blue Jays hitter through the fourth inning except for Alex Rios.  Rios singled in the first, and then homered in the fourth to tie the game at one. 

The pitching from both teams was great, and so was the defense.  After Sabathia allowed an RBI double to Rod Barajas in the fifth, Brett Gardner gunned down Barajas at the plate when he tried to score on a John McDonald single.  In the top of the sixth, Derek Jeter made a diving play on a grounder, and in the bottom half Scott Rolen snagged a liner off the bat of Alex Rodriguez robbing extra bases.

Jeter, who wasn’t expected to be play until Friday, found himself in a nice spot to tie the game in the seventh with Gardner at third and nobody out.  Jeter came through by muscling an inside pitch into short right field that easily scored Gardner.

Sabathia worked out of a huge jam in the seventh by striking out John McDonald with a man on third and one out.  Matsui, who also wasn’t expected in the lineup, silenced Toronto fans with a leadoff home run in the eighth.  Sabathia breezed through the eighth, and Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth to preserve the win.  Full box score here.

It was one heck of a game to listen to, and an important victory for the Yanks.  They showed that the Jays are not as strong as they seem, and are definitely a beatable ball club.  Jeter and Matsui playing tonight erases any doubt in my mind I had about their health.  They are healthy, and showed that with their clutch hits.

Noteworthy Performances:
- Swisher’s RBI in the first was just his third in all of May.  He was hitless on the night, and is 3-for-32 this May.
- Sabathia was the real hero of this game.  8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.  This is the guy I envisioned when the Yankees signed him.  A guy that can give the bullpen rest, and personally hand the ball to Rivera.

Up Next:
The Yankees head back to the Bronx to open a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins.  Friday night’s matchup features two young-guns:  Francisco Liriano (2-4, 5.75) vs. Phil Hughes (1-2, 8.49).

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